A Visual Comparison of Patterns of Organization

Whole into Parts



The Whole:  A sandwich

The Parts:  As listed; all together they make the whole


Grilled Cheese



Chicken Sandwich

A variety of sandwiches.  They have no particular order; one isn't more important than the other.
Whole into Parts (categories)

Cold Sandwiches

Salmon Salad Pitas Photo

Salmon Salad Pita

Chicken Salad Clubs Photo

Club Sandwich

Apple Tuna Sandwich

Hot Sandwiches

Cuban Panini Photo

Cuban Panini

Turkey Burgers with Blueberry BBQ Sauce Photo

Turkey Burger

Bacon Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Bacon Guacamole Grilled Cheese

Whole into Parts

The Whole:  A peanut butter and jelly sandwich

The Parts:  Bread, peanut butter, jelly




Whole into Parts Whole:  The tree trunk

Parts:  Bark, outer core, inner core


Whole into Parts (categories)




Listing   Different examples of trees, in no particular order.  

A computer mouse in its parts






Whole into Parts



Listing:  Various computer mice  

Ball Type 


Optical Type

Laser Type






Whole into Parts (categories)


A table in its parts






Whole into Parts

Listing:  Various tables










This could be a process because each section is a "step" in the process; however, it's expressed not in steps but rather in time (1st semester, 2nd semester).

This one is expressed -- or advanced -- in dates (in time order).


Chronological must be expressed in time segments, whether they be eras, millions of years, single years, decades, hours, weeks, semesters, or minutes.



Time segments are minimally involved here.  Instead, the steps are in a certain order, with little indication of how much time passes between each step.  For example, when you decide you're ready to get out of bed, you climb out of bed.  However, one day it might take five minutes to make that climb; another day you might bound out of bed.  

Process:  This is how to carve a radish rose in four steps.  Notice the 30 seconds at the end.  That means chilling for 30 seconds is
the last step.  Although time is mentioned here, it's not ordered by TIME but by SEQUENCE (step by step in certain order.)
Most process-organized material is how to do something.


Process that's NOT how to.  This shows the water cycle, step by step.  Because it's a circle, it doesn't matter where you begin.  But wherever you begin, the next step is indicated by the arrows.

Now this might look like a cause/effect pattern, because you see that the sun causes the ocean water to evaporate.  In fact, in reality, it is a cause/effect chain, with each effect causing another effect.  But this information (this chart) doesn't list the effects of a certain cause, nor the causes of a certain effect.  As a chain, not all the causes are here; for example, we know the water runs downhill to the ocean, but the cause of that isn't mentioned.  The cause of the rain isn't mentioned.  So this is not organized as cause/effect; it's process.


THIS is cause (smoking) with various effects.  The order of it is focused on the relationship between the cause and its effects.  Notice that the effects are listed in no particular order.  If it weren't for the cause being highlighted, this would be a listing pattern.


Here are several causes of one effect.

While this mentions time and space, it's really about cause (the pushing of the first domino) and effect (which you can see will happen later and from the other direction.)
Problem/ solution: Problem/solution is more of an artificially constructed pattern, but one used commonly in scientific and political writing.  It differs from cause/effect in that it uses the specific word "problem" and the specific word "solution."  The causes proposed are (possible) solutions to the problem, but they haven't been done yet.  If you see a study that looks at what has happened as a result of a new city rule, that would be cause/effect.  The problem is what prompted the city council to adopt the rule with the HOPE of solving that problem.  After it's been tried, though, the effects won't necessarily be "solutions."






It's location, location, location -- whether ordered in left to right, top to bottom, foreground to background.



This apple described spatially may be described from the top to the bottom, or . . .

from the inside to the out.


Or compare/ contrast?

In order for this picture to indicate spatial order, you would say the left shoe or the right shoe.

If it's merely compare and contrast, you might say the darker brown shoe or the lighter brown shoe.

And now I leave you with this fun graphic. 

So what pattern of organization is it?